Volunteering Stories: The spirit of Baia Mare – by Flora

I’m not going to lie, when I left my hometown, Innsbruck in Austria, and waved the last goodbye to my family, I had doubts.

I am in my gap year, I just graduated from high school last year and after some traveling everything kind of came together and I decided to participate in the DO IT! Project in Baia Mare. I am 18 years old and I have never lived on my own, so the thought of living abroad for 4 months was a bit scary, plus I never really imagined how it would actually feel like to leave my hometown until the day came, where my journey began.

On the way to Baia Mare I had “some time” (it was a 20 hours bus ride) to realize the situation and to get some first impressions of Romania and the Romanian people. The young man, who sat next to me, asked me about my plans and when I told him about the ESC and my project in Baia Mare, he just shook his head.

Why on earth would anyone choose to come to Romania?”, he asked me in disbelief.

To be honest, I was a bit stumped, and I couldn’t really give him a good answer why I decided to come to Romania. I mainly chose to come here because of the project itself but besides some stereotypes I didn’t know anything about Romania.

I often think about that moment in the bus and I wish I could go back in time with all the impressions I gained in my first month here. I would tell the man about the people, who are, even if you don’t understand them and they don’t understand you, still give you this feeling of being welcomed. No matter if it’s the milk lady from the market being patient while I don’t understand a word, if it’s the man from the night shelter, who played table soccer with us, or our neighbors, who are trying their best to make small talk with us in the doorway. They show it with a little smile, small gestures or just with this spirit many Romanians have.

Then I would tell  him more about my project and the people who are involved in it. The amazing people from Team for  Youth, who are all trying to make the best out of every situation, especially now, and are making sure that we’re busy and don’t get bored during quarantine. Also my volunteering colleagues, who are kind hearted people and who can bring joy to every situation.

So although I couldn’t explore much of Baia Mare and the region Maramureș so far, I can find countless reasons why coming to Romania was a great decision and why everyone should come to Romania at least once (although maybe not at the moment).

The next time someone asks me “why Romania?” I will simply answer: “Because it is a warm hearted country. “ – and I am so excited to explore and learn more about it.

The volunteer is hosted by Team for Youth Association in the DOIT! project, on a 4 months Solidarity Corps project in Baia Mare. The content of this testimonial does not reflect the official opinion of the European Union. The responsibility for the information and views expressed in the article rests entirely with the author.